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Elder Retreat – last weekend of the month

        Psalm 139 – start by acknowledging God knows us

               Prepare by asking God to examine our hearts

                       And see if there be any wicked way in us

As we go before him

        Want to keep in mind

               4 characteristics of His church

                       Found in our passage today

4 characteristics that we

        As the Body of Christ…

               As God’s people…

                       As His church…

                              Should portray


                                             And individually

We’ll see that, as a church we are…

1. Set apart by God

2. Enriched by God’s grace

3. Expecting Jesus to Return

4. Depending on God’s Faithfulness

How do we get here?

        How do we accomplish this?

               I pray that by the end of our message today

                       By the end of our Elder’s weekend together

                              We will all realize

                                      That we already have All We Need

We’re going to start our study in 1 Corinthians today

        By looking at the first 9 verses of Chapter one

I want to share some background

        On the ancient city of Corinth

               So we can get a full appreciation

                       For the context of Paul’s letter to the church there

                              But in addition to that background

                                      I want to show you 4 things

                                             This text offers us today…

Let’s take look at Corinth first…

(slide) Here’s the Mediterranean region

        (slide) Here’s the area around Greece and Italy

(Slide) Corinth is in Greece

        Greece is divided into two sections

               The north and the south

                       They are joined by this narrow isthmus

                              (slide) and that is where Corinth is

                                      (slide) Athens is about 40 miles away

                                             (slide) and Rome is up in this direction

Ships had a difficult time

        Trying to go the long way around

               So they would drag the ships

                       On skids and rollers

                       The few miles across this isthmus

                              And sail north in the protected waters

                                      Of this gulf bay, the Gulf of Corinth

All this travel

        Made Corinth a very busy city

               It was a major trade artery  

                       It sits atop a large, flat plateau

                              And as such

                                      Was a strategic military position

                                             It wasn’t the biggest city in the land

                                                     But it was huge in its importance

Corinth was a major entertainment center

        It was sophisticated and advanced

               It was a major hub for the entire world economy

                       it had an worldwide reputation

                              For academic and cultural debate

                                      And for public oration and forums

On philosophical, political

 and intellectual matters

        it was, in many ways,

               a lot like Wash. DC!

As you can imagine…

        With so much money floating around

               With so much sophistication to boast of

                       With so much of the world…

                              Pouring through Corinth,

                                      The city had monumental problems

It was notorious for it’s pagan worship

        With a strong emphasis on and a huge temple

               Dedicated to Aphrodite,

                       The Greek goddess of love

                              With over a thousand temple priestesses

                                      And ritual prostitutes

                                             And it was this preoccupation with lust

That dominated everything they did

All over the pagan world,

        Corinth was know for its moral corruption

               It was so well associated with sensuality and debauchery

                       That the Greeks had a term that meant

                              “To behave like a Corinthian”.

                                      It meant to live in gross immorality…

                                             In drunkenness…

                                                     And depravity.

In his letter,

        Paul lists some of the sins

               This city is noted for…









                       Abusive and evil speech

                       And swindling

Worldwide – the name of Corinth was synonymous

        With debasement

If you want a quick snapshot

        Of Corinth…

               Let’s take a look at Romans 1

Paul wrote his letter to the Romans

        While he was staying in Corinth

               You can just see him

                       Sitting at a desk

                              Looking out over the city

                                      Seeing all that is going on

                                             And writing this….

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,

30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.


So this was the city

        Paul started a church in

               And while we will see that God blessed this church

                       We will also see that it had

                              Some major problems

                                      Primarily because it had allowed

                                             The world around it

                                                     To creep into the church


You see,

        Instead of being the influencers in Corinth

               The church there had become the influenced

                       In stead of being examples of holiness, love

                              Piety and discipline….


                              They let liberalism, tolerance,

                                      Entitlement and partisanship

                                             Begin to characterize God’s church

Please listen carefully….

Undoubtedly this was a fun church to be in

        There was always a lot going on

               people from all over the city could come there

                       And be comfortable

                              And have a great experience

                                      On Sunday morning

                                             No demands were put upon them

                                                     No restrictions

                                                            No judgment

                                                                    No legalism

Everyone could do what they wanted to do

        Whenever they wanted to do it

               They were “free in Christ”

                       No one was going to quench the spirit there!

Yes, they had it all…



                       Moving experiences…

                              And Christianity…

                                      And they could keep all their old friends!

                                             Could keep all their old habits!

                                                     Because the church had already

                                                            Shown that there were no

                                                                    Consequences for sin

Indeed, the church was saved

        But it had a lot to learn

               And the first thing they had to learn

                       Was that they had to

                              De-Corinthinize itself

                                      They had to leave the world behind

                                             And realize

                                                     That they were in the world

                                                            But no longer of it

They had to come to the knowledge

        That they didn’t need all that stuff anymore

               All they needed…

                       Was God



1 Corinthians 1

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,


I want to take a moment

        And look at Paul before we read his letter

               And see if there’s anything we can learn from

                       His view of himself

How did Paul know he was an apostle?

        Where does this authority come from?

               Did he just declare, one day

                       That he was an apostle?

                              How did he get that title?

Let’s look in Acts 22

        6 “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,

7 and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

8 “And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’

9 “And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.

10 “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’

11 “But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.

12 “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,

13 came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him.

14 “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.

15 ‘For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.


You see, his authority came from

        Knowing that God called him

               To be a messenger

                       It came from having

a face to face encounter

with a living God

               in a dramatic way

                       and then listening to

what He had to say

You see, it wasn’t just the encounter

        Paul had on the Damascus Road

               That made him an Apostle,

                       It was his reaction to that encounter

                              Paul’s change of behavior

and change of heart

        that completed the change

A lot of us want to hear from God

A lot of us want to have

a “burning bush experience”

        like Moses had

        (recount Moses in Ex. Ch 3)

So Moses had the original burning bush experience

        But it wasn’t the bush

that made Moses who he was

        it was his reaction to it!

Look at the similarities here…

        Both men, Moses and Paul

               Have an amazing experience,

                       Both men, in the middle of this amazing experience

                              Are called to do the one thing

                                      They don’t want to do the most

Both men could have refused…

        Both cold have walked away…

               Moses could have remained a shepherd in Midian

                       Paul could have gone on doing what he was doing

                              Both men chose to respond to the call

How does this apply in our lives?

        God’s calling in our lives is far more clear to us

               Than it was to Moses or Paul

                       All they had were their experiences

                              And we should beware how much

                                      We trust our experiences…

                              You know how that goes…

                                      Our perception of the experience changes

                                             As time passes…

                                                     We can talk ourselves out of doing

                                                            What we know we should do

So our experiences, at times, can be unreliable

        We don’t have to rely on experience…

               We have the Word of God

                       We have a letter from Him

                              A letter Ttat leaves no doubt

that we are called to do

                                              Some things…

God gives us commandments…

        Not just the “10 Commandments”

               But He gives us directions

                       They’re everywhere we look in Scripture…

                              Guidelines and commandments…

                       On how to get along with each other…

                              How to raise our kids…

                                      How to behave…

                                             How to do business…

                                                     How to work…

                                                            How to worship

and a lot of other things

this is why God says of His Word…

        2 Tim 3: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

So we have God’s word

        And don’t have to rely on the subjectivity

               Of our own feeling and experiences

                       But just like Moses and Paul

                              The Word is not enough…

                                      We have to participate…

                                             We have to respond to God’s Word

                                                     If we are ever going to live a life

                                                            Of blessing and fullness

And this is one of the major themes

        Of the entire book of 1 Corinthians

               How the people respond to God’s word

                       Are they doing what seems right to them?

                              Or are they doing what they’ve been taught

                                      Through the men God sent to teach them?

So Paul was an apostle,

        And he writes with the authority of one on this letter

               And he’s with Sosthenes  soce-then´-ace

Who Paul met while he was establishing the church at Corinth

        That happened in Acts 18…

               Let’s take a look

1 After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.

2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them,

3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.

4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.

8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.

9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;

10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”

11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat,

13 saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”

14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you;

15 but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.”

16 And he drove them away from the judgment seat.

17 And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.

This is where we meet Sosthenes

        He was the leader of the synagogue in Corinth

               But when Paul writes his letter

                       Sosthenes is traveling with him        

                              Having been converted through Paul’s ministry


2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:


We see that the letter is to the “church” at Corinth

        The word church means “ a called out people”

               People who are set apart by God (1st characteristic)

                       Set apart from the world

                              Set apart from the fate of the world

                                      Given a place and a part in God’s kingdom

                                             It’s kind of like having an address…

Each church has two addresses,

        A physical geographic address

               Ours is 46 Winchester ST

        And a spiritual address

               “In Christ”

Each church is made up of saints

        Not dead people who are being honored by men

               But living people who are identified

                       By their relationship with a living God

                              So it stands to reason that if the church

                                      Is a people set apart for God

                                             And you are part of the church…

                                                     then you, if you’re born again,

                                                            Are set apart

                                                                    For God’s purposes

Now that’s a pretty big honor

        And a pretty big blessing

               And Paul mentions another blessing

                       That comes along with it


Sanctification (again, to be set apart, to be made holy)

        How is this done? How are we sanctified?...

(in Christ by God’s Calling)

And in this we see something interesting

God’s people are sanctified positionally

By their spiritual address (In Christ)

But not practically…

It’s obvious by what follows

That they are not

Leading holy lives.

What does this mean?

        It means that we, as God’s people

               Are declared holy,

                       Not by anything we do

                              But by God’s recognition of Christ in us

                              In other words, if we are going to be holy

                                      If we’re going to be sanctified

                                             God is all we need

And although we are declared holy

        As long as we are in these flesh and blood bodies

We cannot lead holy lives

                       Yet, God calls us

                              To strive to be holy…

                                      To recognize the blessing He has conferred

                                             And honor Him by, at least, trying

                                                     To be obedient to His Word

That’s our job,

        As His church…

               To recognize that we are unable to lead holy lives

                       To realize that, even though we can’t do that,

                              God saves us anyway,

He save us by virtue of His Son’s righteousness

        Not ours…

               And in honor of that great gift

                       We try to lead holy lives

knowing that… In our own strength

                                      It’s impossible

                                             But in God’s strength,

                                                     All thing are possible…

You see, He’s all you need

        And He’s all we need

In order to be His church


What types of folks are called to His church?

(those who name the Lord)

                An outward sign of the inward change

                       Outward sign is demonstrate by our behavior

                               Which should reflect our sanctification

                                      Holy lives

We’ve already said

That our holiness comes solely through God’s calling

                Not by anything we do

                       But our holiness should be reflected

in the things we do

        in how we behave

               in how we live our lives

Through Christ, we are made holy

        As we are transformed, we participate in that holiness

               Be making it our goal to live in a holy manner

We still live in a corrupt world

        Just like the Church in Corinth was in a corrupt city

               But just like the church in Corinth

                       We are called to be holy in an unholy world

                              And we can do this only because

                                      We have this relationship

                                             With such a powerful and merciful


3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul concludes his salutation

        With a mini-gospel presentation

               And a prayer of blessing


4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,

This is an interesting statement

        Paul makes

               Particularly so considering what Paul

                       Is about to address in the Corinthian church

                              Which seems to be struggling

                                      With a number of issues

                                             One of which was calling

                                                     Attention to themselves


                                                                    A feeling of spiritual


Paul says this…

        “I thank God that the things you have…

               Come from Him, through His Son.

                       They’re all gifts of grace,

                              Unmerited favor.

The message here is this…

        God’s gifts are not because you’re so great

               They’re there because He is so great!


Then he goes on to say…

5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,

Now Paul starts to get personal and specific

        First he tells them

                       That everything they have been blessed with

                              Comes from God

                                      As a gift of grace

                                             Not because of their greatness

                                             Or personalities

                                             Or sophistication

                                             Or intelligence

                                                     But because God decided

                                                            To give it to them

                                                                    Based on His attributes

                                                                           Not theirs

You see, as a church and as individuals

        We are constantly being blessed

               We are continually being enriched

by God’s grace…(2nd point)

We are blessed when we are saved

        And, by His grace, we receive spiritual gifts

               We spoke of that in 2 Timothy

                       We all have a unique gift

                              And we have common gifts as well

                                      Remember the common gifts…

                                             The power of love

                                                     And the power of discipline

These gifts enrich us

        The word for “enrich” means

               A very wealthy person

                       The Corinthians are especially rich in gifts

                              But they weren’t using them

in a spiritual manner

        at least not one that honors God


And Paul tells them that even

        The gifts this church in Corinth are noted for

               Gifts of utterance (tongues) and knowledge (prophecy)

                       Are God’s gifts

                              Not theirs…

                                      Gifts that God has enriched them with

                                             And these gifts are

the means God has used

                                                             To enrich them

                                                                    through their relationship

                                                                            With Him.

You see?

        It is only because the Corinthian Church was part of the Body

               That God chose to bless them with these gifts…

                       Gifts that had to do with outward expression

                              Of their relationship with God…

                                      Gifts of tongues

                       And gifts that had to do with inward expression

                              Of their relationship with God

Gifts of prophecy, and wisdom and

discernment and interpretation.

None of this occurred because

        There was something special about the Corinthian Church

               There was nothing that made them

                       More worthy of anything

               There was nothing that made them

                       More mature (as we will soon find out)

               There was noting that made them

                       More capable…

                              They were gifts given

                                      By the grace of God

                                             For the glory of God

And look at this!....

        The gifts were given to them why?

               To perform miracles?

               To wow themselves with signs and wonders?

               To build their faith?


                              The gifs were given to them as a witness…

                                      As a demonstration…

As a demonstration to the people of Corinth

        A people that had mistakenly built their city

               And their lives around

                       what they saw and heard

                              and what they experienced…

                                      god gave His church the tools it needed

                                             to reach the people it lived among!

It was all about the lost!

        It was for the benefit of the people who didn’t know God

               Not the people in the church…

                       They already knew God!

                              The church thought it was for them!

But God gave them the gifts

        As a demonstration, a witness

Of the presence of God within them

                       It says so right in the next verse…


6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,


The fact that they had the gifts

        Was confirmation of God’s work

               In their lives.

They had heard the gospel

        They received it, in faith

               And God gave them these gifts

                       As a way of testifying to their salvation

                              This is true of all gifts God gives us

                                      Not just these few gifts here

We need to ponder that for a moment

        Because I know that we all get to

               Comparing our gifts

                       With those God gives others,

                              Sometimes thinking that He gives

                                      Better people better gifts!


        All the gifts God gives anyone

               Are gifts of grace

                       None are better than  the other

                              But even more importantly…

                                      All the gifts are given as a testimony

                                             To His greatness

                                             His power

                                             His love

                                             His glory!

We need to get that!

        Because as soon as we start comparing things

               We begin to prioritize them as well

                       And when we do that…

                              We make His gifts about us

                                      And that’s a mistake

Paul tells us much the same thing in the next verse…

He continues on


7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

He tells them they are not lacking anything in the way of a gift

        Now that may seem an odd statement to make

               To a church that has been blessed with

                       So many miraculous gifts

                              But if we look a little closer

                                      At what’s happening here

                                             We can see the big picture…

Paul opens with praise, thanksgiving and encouragement

        He tells them that everything they have

               Came from God

                       And is to serve God’s purpose in their lives

                              And that it’s all there

                                      To show the world that God

                                             Is there among them

                                                     And that none of this is because

                                                            They are special

                                                                    But because God is

And now Paul tells the Corinthian church

        That they are lacking nothing

               They have everything they need

                       God has given them everything

                              He intends for them to have

                                      On order for them to do

                                             What He wants them to do

Now, if we’ve read ahead

        With some understanding

               We know that Paul is about to

                       Reveal to the Corinthian Church

                              That they have some pretty severe problems

                                      One of them is this…

                                             They thought the gifts

Made them spiritually mature

it wasn’t the gifts

                                             That made them spiritually mature

                                                     It was the way they used the gifts

                                                            That would mark their growth..

                                                                    And they weren’t doing

                                                                           Very well at that.

Paul is about to say to them and to us…

        “There’s nothing missing!”

               “You have everything you need!”

                       “It’s all there!”

                              “but you need to learn how to use it!”

                                      You’re not deficient!

                                      You’re not lost!

                                      You’re not doomed

                                             But you need to know

                                                     That you don’t know everything

                                                            I’ve given you all you need…

                                                                    But that’s all you need!

                                                                           They were looking

                                                                                   For more!

(talk about getting a new bike for Christmas

        Had the bike….

               But didn’t know how to ride it

                       Thinking I did, and trying to show off

                              I got a lot of scraped knees…

                                      I had to learn how to use the bike)

This is what was happening to the Corinthians

        They had the bike

               And, wanting to show off

                       They were scraping their knees!

The Corinthians had to learn

        How to use their gifts

And Paul tells them how to do this…

        By eagerly awaiting the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ”

               By keeping our eyes on Him!

                       And living like He was really coming back!

                              And coming back soon (elaborate on how we might live if we knew…)

Paul wants to live

        Like we are expecting Jesus to return! (3rd point)

               When we do…

                       When we keep our eyes on Him

                              We’re going to be less likely

                                      To try to elevate ourselves!


Then Paul o0ffers a word of encouragement

        He says Christ is the one…       


8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And it’s as if Paul were to say,

        “It’s OK. God’s in control.

You’re going to be alright.

We’re all growing,

we’re all learning

and we’re all going to the same place.”

Why is this so?


9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Paul’s encouragement is for them

        And us…

               To depend on God’s faithfulness (4th point)

                       To depend on God to do

                              What He said He will do

                                      In the way He said He would do it

Now, If we know that….

        Then we don’t have to depend on ourselves

               If you’ve ever tried to do that…

                       Depend on yourself….

                              Then you know a few things…

1. It’s very hard and sometimes painful and lonely

2. You’re not always successful at it

3. the area of your greatest struggle

        Is the area you will most likely fail                              

God promise to wipe every tear away

He promises that there will come a day…

        When there is no pain

He promises that we will never be lonely

        Because He will always be there


He promises that even when we fail

        He will succeed

               And He will love us

                       No matter what

                              And that nothing will ever separate us

                                      From that love

God is everything…(SLIDE)

        He is everyone…

               He is all…you….need (Slide)


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